This morning's Denver Post carried an article about drilling slow-downs in western Colorado. The Centennial State had been enjoying record levels of drilling, thanks mainly to massive programs in tight-gas sands in the Piceance Basin. The paper reported that Chevron Corp. has decided not to increase investment in the basin. Previously, it had planned to double its drilling program; now it will stay at two rigs, and forego the ramp-up to six rigs it had scheduled for 2009. Williams Production, another active Piceance player, will drop six rigs from its fleet in 2009, moving down to 20 from 26 rigs. Likewise, Berry Petroleum will lay down three rigs, and keep one active in the area in 2009. Drilling could be off 35% to 40% in western Colorado over the next few months. Naturally, low commodity prices are the primary reason for the dampened forecast. Nymex prices are low, and the basis differential has ballooned again for Rockies producers. The credit crunch and new, more restrictive regulations expected to be imposed on drilling operations by the state government are contributing factors. The rigs are already disappearing. In September, 93 rigs were turning to the right in the Piceance; in early November that count had declined by 10. by Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor Contact me at